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I apologize if you are not ready to start thinking about Fall yet. Like it or not, Summer will soon be drawing to a close. While it usually feels good to get back into the more structured schedule of the school year, I encourage you to do your best to live in the moment and enjoy these remaining, less structured, weeks of Summer. However, living in the moment cannot preclude planning for the future, so here are our plans as we move into Fall. The Congregation Council has decided to continue with our current schedule of one Sunday morning worship service at 9:30 am. Sunday School and Adult Forum will take place after worship, from 10:45 to 11:30 am. 

We are all aware of how disruptive changing Sunday morning worship schedules can be. No more opting to worship early or late. No longer choosing between exclusively traditional or exclusively contemporary worship service styles. However, there are also benefits to moving from two Sunday worship services to one. I believe the primary benefit will be the strengthening of our church community. One of the things I hear consistently is that people who regularly attend the two different worship services do not know each other. It sometimes seems like we have two separate congregations. Moving to one worship service will bring an end to this sense of division. I also believe combining our two worship services into one will improve the overall feeling of worship here at Holy Cross. 

It is helpful to keep in mind that switching from two worship services to one was being discussed before the pandemic began. Part of the planned agenda for the 2020 March Council Retreat was discussing this very topic. (The retreat did not take place due to the pandemic.) For the first two and a half months of 2020, prior to the pandemic, average worship attendance at 8:30 was around 40, and at 11:00 it was around 80. Based on those figures, people were beginning to ask if it would be better to switch to one worship service. 

The newest development is the impact that live-streaming will have on our in-person worship attendance. It is impossible to know exactly how many people are watching on-line. Someone who often watches live, estimates somewhere around twenty devices logged-in each Sunday. (Each of those logged-in devices may have one person watching or an entire family.) The other way to measure how many people we are connecting with us online is the “People Reached” figure from Facebook. As I write this article, the “People Reached” figure for the July 18 worship service is 191. (This figure may change if someone else watches the recording.) I am not sure what that number actually tells us. If nothing else, it tells us that some people are connecting with our online worship is some manner. (For what it is worth, the average “People Reached” figure for January through July of this year is 204. The average in-person worship attendance for March through July of this year is 51.) Of course, the other great unknown is how the pandemic is impacting our worship attendance. It will be interesting to see how worship attendance changes once children can be vaccinated and Sunday School is back in session.

So, what is the bottom line? I believe it is this: amidst these changes, Holy Cross Lutheran Church will continue to fulfill the mission and ministry that God has called us to. Yes, it's going to be different. As we have learned, we may need to adjust along the way. Some of us will need to sacrifice some of our personal preferences regarding the time and style of worship. But that which has always been most important, that which truly calls and gathers us together as a congregation, as people of God, and followers of Jesus, that which gives our lives ultimate meaning and purpose, these things remain the same. Encountering God in worship, caring for one another, serving our community and our world, sharing God's love with those we interact with, striving to further God's Kingdom and working for justice and peace, these, and all the other things God has called, gathered, and gifted us to do, we will continue doing.

Please feel free to reach to me or any member of our Congregation Council with any questions or concerns you may have. At this point, our plan is to use this schedule at least through the rest of this year. At that time, we can evaluate how things are going and decide how best to move forward. Please join me in praying for God's continued guidance in our journey together.


Pastor Jim